Recent Content

Programming tools: languages

posted on 2019-07-01

Programmers love to debate about programming languages. Almost everyone has their favourite, so discussions as to the relative merits of each often degrade into “holy wars”. Although no one will ever find the “perfect programming language” (despite numerous claims to the title), it is nonetheless instructive to compare different languages. After all, not all languages were created equal, and each have their individual strengths and weaknesses. Knowing about these can help you choose just the right language for just the right situation – in short, to use the right tools.


Dealing with Errors

posted on 2019-06-24

The Jargon File defines programming as: “A pastime similar to banging one's head against a wall, but with fewer opportunities for reward.” Every programmer knows the frustration of looking for bugs that just won't be found. In fact, the majority of a software's development cycle is usually devoted not to the original writing, but to the subsequent debugging. Somebody who is good at finding and fixing mistakes therefore not only produces more reliable code, but is also a more efficient developer. So what techniques can we use to find bugs, or, if possible, prevent them occurring in the first place?


The Art of Abstraction

posted on 2019-06-17

“Software's Primary Imperative has to be managing complexity”, says Steve McConnell in his book on software construction. In the first article of this series, I already said that reducing complexity makes software simultaneously more reliable, understandable, and extendable. Now, we are going to take a look at how that is possible.


Challenge Completed

posted on 2019-06-13

Well, it is twelve weeks later. And I am glad to announce, I have successfully completed the Monday Challenge! Twelve articles in twelve weeks, a total of almost twelve thousand written words. Time to look back. Was it like I expected it to be?


Nullboard - Lightweight Kanban

posted on 2019-06-10

After months of trying, my friends and I finally managed to schedule a new pen-and-paper roleplaying session for later today. As game master, that meant a busy last few days for me as I set about preparing a new campaign. Usually, I do my preparations with an actual physical notebook, but for various reasons I decided a digital note app would be better this time around. By a stroke of luck I happened to discover an excellent little tool that I think is worth presenting here: Nullboard.


Understandable Software

posted on 2019-06-03

Having begun our series on software development with a broad look at the basic principles, let us now get down to the nitty-gritty. We said the three key aims of a developer should be software that is reliable, understandable, and extendable. As the second of these is probably the easiest, let us start with that. So how do you write software that is easy to understand?


Principles of Software Development

posted on 2019-05-27

Working at an institute for computational biology, my colleagues and I deal with computer code almost every day. Yet none of us is a trained software developer as such – we are biologists, physicists, and mathematicians who happen to have learnt a bit of programming on the side. Some of us (like myself) got into it as a hobby, most picked it up along the way. So over the past few weeks, I started to ask myself a question: “How can we become better at developing software?” The next question came naturally: “Well, what is good software development?”


Termites - African Engineers

posted on 2019-05-20

I've been around termites all my life – their tall mounds and annoying habit of chewing books were a constant companion of life in Zambia. I always found them moderately interesting: their mounds are impressive, but usually I saw them as little more than a source of food for my perennial favourites, the ants. This week, however, I read a paper that showed me a little bit more about just how cool these little critters actually are.


Conservation Optimism

posted on 2019-05-13

“These lectures always make me depressed”, a colleague of mine said as we walked out of the tropical biology course last Thursday. “Why?”, another asked. “Because every time, they show you just how badly we're messing up nature.” The rest of the group had to agree: studying ecology can be horribly depressing at times. Species are disappearing faster than we can count them, whole ecosystems are collapsing right in front of our eyes, and we don't seem to be able to do very much about it. So how do we deal with this desparate outlook? And is there any cause at all for optimism?


Rezension: Darwin - Abenteuer des Lebens

posted on 2019-05-06

Sieben Monate reiste Jürgen Neffe um die Welt, der Reiseroute folgend, die seinerzeit Darwin an Bord der Beagle nahm. 2009 erschien dann sein Reisebericht: “Darwin – Das Abenteuer des Lebens”. Eine gut geschriebene 500-Seiten Reportage über Gott und die Welt, nur leider nicht die im Titel versprochene Darwin-Biografie…


Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Daniel Vedder.
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